U. S. District Court Judge Vaughn A. Walker has issued a landmark decision declaring that Proposition 8, the voter approved California Constitutional amendment banning same-gender marriage, is unconstitutional.The text of Judge Walker’s decision can be found here.
“The United States Constitution guarantees that all persons shall be treated equally under the law;” said Chris Prevatt, spokesman for the Harvey Milk Stonewall Democratic Club of Orange County. “The U.S. Supreme Court rulled decades ago, that marriage is a fundamental right, when it overturned state laws banning inter-racial marriages. Judge Walker has paved the way for a similar ruling by the Supreme Court regarding the rights of same-gender couples.”
“Despite what the proponents of Proposition 8 choose to believe, marriage is not simply an institution based upon religion, it is an institution of the state that grants rights to individuals who choose to live in partnership.”
The Prop 8 supporters (defendants in the case) filed a request for a stay of Judge Walker’s ruling this morning on the chance that the ruling might go against them. The case is certain to be appealed, and any change to the current law will likely be delayed until all appeals are concluded.
Orange County rights activists will rally tonight, August 4th, 7pm, at Sasscer Park, Santa Ana, in the shadows of the Federal Courthouse.Â Prior to the release of Judge Walker’s decision the, activists said that they cherish their families and are hoping for a day when all families are treated equally.Â â€œSo many rights go along with marriage, things we never even dreamed about,â€ said Linda May, member of Orange County Equality Coalition.Â â€œFrom how your treated by others, how the State see you, even something as simple as insurance rates, it is impossible to cover everything with just domestic partnership.â€
Coined Fairness for ALL Families, participants will hear from diverse speakers about what this decision for marriage fairness means to them.Â Signs, flags, and a â€œComment Board,â€ will encourage participants to express their enthusiasm and capture their reaction.Â Tentative speakers include: children of same sex couples, parents of lesbians and gays, and same sex couples â€“ some who have legally married and others who want to legally marry.
Education and information will mix with the celebration or concern, depending on the decision.Â Katherine Darmer, Chapman University School of Law Professor, will address the implications of this ruling and explain the likely future appeals.Â â€œThis is just the first step of an appeals process that will likely go all the way to the Supreme Court,â€ explains Darmer.Â Audrey Prosser, a gay rights activist in Orange County for three decades, will inspire participants to keep the momentum going by getting involved in activities of various local organizations.Â Â â€œPeople need to find out who we really are.Â Our friends and families were denigrated by the Yes on 8 Campaign, appealing to peoples worst prejudices, as a tool to confuse and sway voters.Â The real effect is to sow self-loathing among gays and lesbians and misunderstanding, fear and hatred about us.â€Â Research has shown that when people find out the truth about Prop 8, they are sorry they voted for it.
As for the question of whether or not it is right for courts to overturn a vote of the people, Darmer pointed out â€œThe courts have long played a critical role in our democracy in safeguarding minority rights, whether they be the rights of interracial couples to marry or the rights of women to fair employment opportunities. We are thrilled that Judge Walker recognized the fundamental right to marriage for all couples.Â It is a scary proposition indeed when a majority can ‘vote away’ the rights of minorities.”